North Carolina loves a good rivalry. Whether people are fighting over tomato vs. vinegar in the barbeque sauce, NC State vs. UNC in college sports, or the mountains vs. the beach for a summer destination, the one easy truth is that we love to disagree with people who have different allegiances.
North Carolina FC’s move to the United Soccer League (USL) will only increase the regional rivalries. The move will reunite the club with plenty of old foes, as it rehashes regional rivalries that have spanned across multiple teams, ownership groups and leagues for the better part of 20 years.
North Carolina’s earliest soccer rivalry dates to 1993 when the Raleigh Flyers, Charlotte Eagles, Richmond Kickers and Charleston Battery competed in the USISL during the early years of the franchises. The four clubs continued their competition and played against each other in various leagues up until the 2000 season when the Raleigh-based club folded.
The founding of North Carolina FC in 2006 helped revive the rivalry, as the cities competed against each other again in league play and U.S. Open Cup from 2007-2009 and have faced each other in preseason matches the last few years.
The Southern Derby, which is a fan-based U.S. professional soccer cup competition between teams from the South, added fuel to rivalry and looped in Atlanta-based clubs. NCFC has claimed the trophy every year it has been in the competition (2007-2009) and will look to restore its dominance.
2018 will feature a season full of reactivating some historical rivalries that have brought a unique edge to the sport and fan culture in North Carolina. Get to know a few of our biggest anticipated rivals for the 2018 season below.
The young, but heated rivalry has seen North Carolina FC claim the better results as of late. After the 704-based club won a preseason match in the first meeting and then knocked NCFC out of the Open Cup in 2015, it’s been all NCFC since. Overall, North Carolina FC is outscoring Charlotte 9-1 in the last two Open Cup meetings. The dominant wins have also earned places in the NCFC record books as two of the biggest margins of victory in franchise history. NCFC’s move to USL will only strengthen the quickly-developing intrastate rivalry.
While Richmond has been around since 1993, the NCFC franchise has only met the Kickers in competitive matches twice – both were Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup games. NCFC won both contests with a 1-0 victory in 2007 and a 2-1 win in 2009. Since then, the matches have been a staple on both teams’ preseason calendars, as the teams have met five times over the last seven years. NCFC has won the last two matches in the overall series.
The Charleston Battery have dominated the Southern Derby, winning the competition three-consecutive years and a record 10 times overall. NCFC will look to dethrone the Battery in 2018. Overall, NCFC is out to a big advantage in the series history. The club won the first seven meetings and has only dropped two league matches to the Battery ever. The semi-regular preseason meetings have produced a mixed bag of results as both clubs are 1W-1L-1D against each other since 2011.